White extremist leader loses appeal on six-year prison sentence

ABC News/October 18,1999

Pretoria, South Africa (AP) _ A neo-Nazi leader who once threatened race war in South Africa faces imprisonment after a judge on Monday rejected his appeal of a six-year prison sentence for two assaults on black men.

In handing down judgment, High Court Justice Willie van der Merwe said the community expected a political leader to be responsible and that TerreBlanche deserved no special treatment.

"Our courts (are) there to help the community to live in harmony. This could only happen if courts could mete out punishment without fear and without regard of persons," van der Merwe said.

TerreBlanche has been free on $3,300 bail following his conviction in 1997 by a lower court in Potchefstroom, 100 miles southwest of Pretoria. TerreBlanche can appeal to the Court of Appeals in Bloemfontein, Justice Department spokeswoman Lulu Ngoma said.

The leader of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement was convicted in 1997 of attempted murder for beating a black worker so savagely that the victim became paralyzed, and for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm for setting his dog on another black man in a separate incident.

TerreBlanche, 55, has led the most radical wing of Afrikaner nationalists for two decades. Since the 1994 elections that ended apartheid, he has been consigned to the sidelines.

His group seeks an autonomous state for Afrikaners, the Dutch-descended white settlers of South Africa who ruled during apartheid.

The group set off bombs that killed 21 people on the eve of the 1994 vote.

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